Thursday, August 20, 2009

Establishing Neural Pathways

In the last month I have completed watching a series on ABC TV (from the BBC) titled "the humanbrain", narrated by Professor Robert Winston . The series takes a pioneering journey through the unexplored galaxy inside our own heads, describing cutting edge science and extraordinary experiments.
My favourite part of the series is when Professor Winston talks about a neural pathway and the fact that science has made the connection between visualisation and the establishment of a neural pathway. Furthermore, the established link between a neural pathway and physical achievement.

The Experiment described
A very competent young gymnast, who had been practising for five hours a day for 10 years, wanted to compete in the Olympic Games.
This meant that she had to learn a very complicated move. Despite what the coach showed and described to her, when the young gymnast tried the new move, she failed - over and over again. It was just not working and she needed a more "radical" approach - visualisation.
We saw the young gymnast standing still and practising the move in her mind - hundreds, if not thousands of times. You, of course, know the end result. When she then actually tried the move she was successful and could now focus on improving her technique. Robert Winston went on to say that what science has shown is that through visualisation the young gymnast had established a new neural pathway inside her mind. It was not until this neural pathway had been established that the actual physical achievement of completing the move could take place.

What more is there?

Know that "all good and lasting change occurs on the inside first". Another way to say this is, "if you can't perceive this happening in your mind's eye then there is very little chance of it taking place in physical reality".
Remember what the deeper meaning of visualisation is? It doesn't mean just see or see in your mind's eye! It is to visualise by using any or all of our senses (see, feel, smell, hear, or taste) and imagine and talk to yourself. The latter two we can all do; however with the five senses we can have varying degrees of success.
So if you can't -
- visualise yourself doing well in an exam, or
- visualise running a race and achieving it in a certain time, or
- envisaging yourself in the job that you want, or ...........
- expand your mind with other examples -

then there will be very little chance of it ever taking place in reality. Positive self talk plays an enormous part in achieving what you want and .......... so does the technique you use to implant the new thoughts in your subconscious mind.

Achieving faster
The young gymnast was standing still, focusing on visualising inside her mind, over and over again.
I know that you don't have to stand - you can sit comfortably. It is all very well to say "focus" on visualisation, however many people may have a challenge to do that. An easy way to do that is to go to a relaxed spot that you have experienced in your life, which takes you to the Alpha brainwave state, that is, a relaxed and focused state. Once you are in this focused state the Reticular Activating System is open and you can work inside your mind establishing new "neural pathways" which become new habits.
I suggest that you say your written goal (in positive, present tense, and personal language,) and then visualise the outcome. In the case of the young gymnast, not only completing the new move, but visualising the fact that she was representing her country at the Olympic Games would be most appropriate.
How do you think she would be feeling at the end of this visualisation? Fantastic! Yes the emotion has started. It is this emotion that is the language of the subconscious mind (not words, sounds or pictures,) and this emotion, can be enhanced using other good positive emotional events overlaying and adding to the original emotion. With more emotion the new neural pathway (the new habit) is established faster.
Muscle improvement
Professor Winston went on to describe how science has shown that up to 50% of muscle gain with "body builders" in a gymnasium can be gained just using the visualisation process! Almost unbelievable isn't it?
And yet when we stop and think about how science is showing how the human mind works, why not! After all, we have all heard about experiments being done years ago with basketballers shooting for baskets - how those who visualised beat those that actually practised.
A friend of mine is a paraplegic from the waist down. He has been visualising exercising his legs for years and his legs look good. The more common outcome for paraplegics who do not visualise is that their legs waste away.
Conclusion
I am personally thrilled that what I have been encouraging for years, has now got even more science behind it. Credibility has taken another leap forward! I encourage you to study and practise in your daily life - making the system a habit. This way you establish new neural pathways and achieve the possibilities that you dream about. So, be encouraged! Science is showing how our mind works. To achieve goals faster, create a new habit or to replace one that you wish to let go, use what I have said above - it works. I encourage you to put it into your daily life!

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